Intellectual Property Lessons from Comic-Con 2018

I recently had the good fortune to attend Comic-Con.  It had the massive crowds, action heroes in costume, panel discussions, and merch that has made it a world famous event.

This year’s Comic-Con saw the further evolution of a longstanding event—the importance of launching and protecting IP over a variety of platforms.

One of the most striking examples of this involved the panel that took place involving Critical Roll, which is a web series produced by Geek & Sundry.  It features voice actors playing a series of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.  The show is broadcast live on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channelYouTube channel, and Project Alpha. Since its launch in 2015 hundreds of episodes have been broadcast, and a typical episode runs 3-5 hours.  In addition, the show has on several occasions been presented before a live a theater audience.   

 Screen shot from the YouTube video posted  by Geek and Sundry:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82y27mtR758

Screen shot from the YouTube video posted  by Geek and Sundry:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82y27mtR758

More than 2,000 fans attended a panel at Comic-Con and the level of enthusiasm was off the charts. It was a live Q&A session where the shows fans could ask questions of the shows producers and stars. Some people flew from around the world to attend this event, and many were in costume.  There is a reason why fan is short for fanatic. 

From an IP standpoint, Critical Roll exemplifies the further blending of what used to be traditional boundaries.  It’s no secret that films are bleeding into radio and TV and everything is bleeding into streaming content. And some combination of these platforms is now mixing with video games. And all of it involves merch. Critical Roll shows the evolution of what started as a board game into the simultaneous broadcast of live content over multiple platforms, where cosplay is a huge part of how fans interact with the show. 

The good news is that if you get this right, you can reach a worldwide audience of fanatics.  But it also means that you better get the IP right.  Because if you get any part of this wrong, the consequences can be financially ruinous.  If, for example, you fail to protect your right to a certain image or establish chain of title or licensing rights, you may now be committing copyright and trademark violations over countless platforms across the globe.  

So behind all the fun and energy and joy of Comic-Con is a stark IP reality-get your IP right the first time.

By William Kay